Strength in [Lack of] Numbers

“You may know when first Truth leads by the fewness and faithfulness of its followers.”
(Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 225)

This statement is often held up by Christian Scientists as a banner of proof that Christian Science (a.k.a. Truth*) is as strong and relevant as ever, and as a denial of the reality of its very precipitous decline since about the mid 20th century. If you take it at face value, then Christian Science is stronger than virtually any religion out there–after all, it is the One True Religion, ordained by God and revealed by God to Mary Baker Eddy. The followers are few (by some educated estimates less than 200,000 worldwide)**, and those who still cling to this faith are dogmatically strong in their adherence to it–all too often to early and unpleasant deaths. It brings in few new converts–the vast majority of Christian Scientists I know are 2nd generation or more–in my own case, I was a 3rd generation. It’s largely an inherited religion, except in some African and South American countries where it has experienced recent growth, although I understand that growth, especially in South America, has levelled off.

As I see it, this is another of many examples of self-delusion on the part of Christian Scientists and their church, and I freely admit that I used to drink this Kool-Aid too. Perhaps Mary Baker Eddy knew what the future might hold when she wrote that statement. I clung to the hope that the decline in numbers meant that we were right and everyone else was wrong. However, that always flew in the face of what I knew deep down was true and logical (I just did not want to admit it): if Christian Science was really the amazing healing remedy that it claims to be, then everyone would be flocking to it and away from conventional medical care. I have yet to see that happen. The opposite is true–it is declining rapidly. Christian Science has amply demonstrated time and time again, in my own experience and that of many others, that it does not work. It is declining and will eventually become extinct for that very undeniably real reason.

____________________

* “Truth” is used here as a synonym of God. Mary Baker Eddy, in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p. 465), gave 7 synonyms for God: Life, Truth, Love, Principle, Mind, Soul, and Spirit. When used in this manner, these “synonyms” are capitalized in Christian Science “grammar”.

** In accordance with Article VIII, Section 28 of the Manual of the Mother Church, which states that, “Christian Scientists shall not report for publication the number of the members of The Mother Church, nor that of the branch churches.”, The Mother Church does not publish the number of members. In the 1936 United States census, the last to report numbers of particular religious affiliation, there was a count of 268,915 Christian Scientists in the United States.1

1 “Christian Science.” Adherents.com. n.d. Web. 3 December 2013. <http://www.adherents.com/Na/Na_156.html&gt;

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2 thoughts on “Strength in [Lack of] Numbers

  1. One of the discussions that was tossed about in class instruction was that to heal like Mrs Eddy or Christ would fill the churches. I remember seeing black and white photos from the turn of the century of the Mother Church and local branches with crowds of people in attendance. I diligently studied my weekly bible lesson with the goal of healing that couldn’t be denied and thus the numbers would return. I chased that carrot for years. One of the best days of my life was realizing it is not up to me to be that individual. The self inflicted abuse changed course that day.

    • I too always hoped and prayed for the ever-elusive “instantaneous healing”. It never came. At one time, I thought my Dad had been instantly healed from the effects of what appeared to be a stroke. He did seem to recover quickly, but years later a CAT scan revealed stroke-related damage that could only have come from that incident. So much for Christian Science “healing”. It is worth noting that Christian Science was popular in the 19th to early 20th centuries largely because medical practice at the time was barbaric at best. It was often better to cast one’s life to the chance of Christian Science healing than to the torture of the medical practice. Now, of course, things are very different. Christian Science, notably, only seems to experience growth now where access to good, reliable medical care is limited or non-existent–mainly in underdeveloped countries, such as those in west Africa.

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